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Sunday, June 26th
The co-founder of TripAdvisor is the brains behind CarGurus, created in 2006. According to their statistics, this site is the most visited automotive marketplace in the United States. Users really appreciate how this platform rates each vehicle listing on a scale from "overpriced" up to "great deal" , using powerful analytics to analyze inventory and come up with a valuation in real time.
Makes it easy to find cars
Using CarGurus goes two ways: you can shop by body style, or you can enter details like make and model, price range, and/or zip code and search radius. This site goes a little deeper in the body style options. You've got the basic sedan, SUV and truck (with helpful pictures in case you're not sure of the difference), plus coupe, hatchback, convertible, wagon and minivan too.
Detailed, useful filters
Next, use the filters to sort through the choices. Maybe you only want cars available for home delivery, or you prefer listings that are new to the market. Done and done. Other filters include engine, features, and deal ratings, but our favorite is "NHTSA Overall Safety Rating" (because we're careful like that). Once you've got your matching results page, keep in mind that the first few shown will probably be sponsored ads and not necessarily your best matches.
No mystery involved with car sellers
What's nice about looking for used cars through CarGurus is the full disclosure of each vehicle's location. Yes, you can use the CG site to send an inquiry to the dealership or seller, but if you'd rather stay incognito for a little longer, you can just go directly to the place offering the car for sale. Each dealer has reviews you can read on the CarGurus site too, and you can even see the price history on each vehicle you're considering.
Better for car buyers than sellers
CarGurus has accreditation and an "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau, with just 13 complaints filed there in the year prior to this evaluation. Customer reviews are a mixed bag, but they divide pretty evenly down the line between buyers and sellers. Almost everyone that uses this site to sell their own cars comes away disappointed, but lots of car buyers say that this service is excellent.
Experiences with car dealers vary
However, we advise you to be aware of a few things. First, as with many referral services like this one, there's no guarantee that the dealer will honor the price quoted on CarGurus or that the vehicle will be available by the time you reach the lot. We found a few reviews that described situations like that. Second, this service doesn't make any promises about the quality of the dealers with whom it partners. Some customers said that they had some shady experiences with dealers falsifying CARFAX reports or not disclosing problems; there's no recourse with CarGurus if that happens.
Decent resource for used car-buying
CarGurus gives you a lot of information you'll need to have a good experience buying a used car. We found plenty of listings in every area we searched, and we really appreciate this service's transparency with where the cars are located. As long as you keep in mind that the rest of your transaction will depend on the reputability of the dealer/seller and not on CarGurus, you should have no problems here.
No matter what, your first step should always be research. You should determine exactly what's going to fit your needs (or your wants!). Do you have a particular make and model in mind, or are features going to be king regardless of manufacturer? Whether you're all about safety or you feel the need for speed, it's well worth your time to dig into the details of price, reliability and availability, especially when used car inventory is at an all-time low nationwide.
Fortunately, there are many websites that help you do just that - and then make it possible for you to find your perfect new-to-you ride. Some of these platforms even let you buy your car online and have it delivered right to your house. Before you start worrying about the safety of such vehicles, rest assured that most companies selling used cars will include a detailed, independently-verified history report right in the car's listing.
You can see how many owners it's had, any accidents reported, and sometimes the service history detailing oil changes and other routine maintenance. Buying used cars online is a huge time-saver too: you don't have to make a long drive to a dealership hoping they'll have something on the lot that you'll like, and you can avoid a lot of the "pushy salesperson" experience.
Most sites that sell pre-owned vehicles also have tools for determining how much you can afford and prequalifying for financing - which is one less thing you'll have to do in person (assuming you don't take the 100% online route from the get-go).
Which site should you use for buying used cars? There are a lot of similarities among them, and among the highest-rated services you can choose fairly freely without worrying about missing out. But, here are some things to consider about any used car website you're looking at:
TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked the best online services for buying used cars. We're confident that this information will help you get your next pre-owned set of wheels at a price you'll love!
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